LUANDA, Angola — Hunger and malnutrition in Angola remain serious issues today, with two-thirds of the population living in poverty, and only 47 percent of the population with access to clean drinking water as of 2013.
Nutrient deficiencies are rampant. As stated by the World Bank in its Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for the period FY14-FY16, 30 percent of preschool children and more than half of pregnant women are anemic; almost two-thirds of preschool-aged children are vitamin A deficient; up to 20 percent of young children are at risk of developing iodine deficiency disorders and almost half of the population is at risk of inadequate zinc consumption.
Angola is unlikely to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, but has made visible progress since the end of its civil war in 2002. The portion of the population earning less than $1 per day fell from its 2001 level of 68 percent to 36.6 percent in 2009.
UN agencies “consider nutrition to be a strong priority,” ranking Angola with a “strong” rating for the nutrition component within the United Nations Development Assistance Framework. The global hunger index rating, which measures success in achieving the MDGs, was rated 19.1 signifying a “serious” state. Despite measurable progress, the situation is still dire.
2009 statistics reveal that most of the country’s poor are concentrated in rural areas, with poverty rates equaling three times that found in urban locations. Poverty there is reinforced, in part, by the inadequate availability of social services. For these reasons, rural areas are being targeted in the war against poverty, both by Angola’s government, and international aid organizations.
Angola’s troubles stem from an easily diagnosable systemic flaw: a heavy reliance on the oil sector, which accounts for over 40 percent of GDP. On top of this, Angola has an imbalanced dependency on food imports, precariously sensitive to international food prices, which may devastate the poor if resulting in inflation and less spending. A massive challenge has been shifting dependency on oil by further diversifying the economy.
The preceding points are addressed by the developmental focus on rural areas, specifically through the strengthening of agricultural capacity. Doing so collects a fourfold payout: improved food security, stemming an employment surge, reducing extreme poverty and hedging the economic portfolio.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through the Growing Sustainable Business initiative, addresses the matters as well. By working to “strengthen and expand local micro, small and medium enterprises,” the UNDP is both planting new seeds and allowing for growth, along with the subsequent job hike, of the corporate forest.
The Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA) party won the 2012 parliamentary elections, gaining 175 out of 220 seats. Jose Eduardo dos Santos was sworn in as President with Vice President Manuel Vicente. Their 2014 budget reflects the need to diversify, move away from oil dependency and reinforce job creation. Their National Development Plan for 2013-2017 focuses on diminishing poverty, preventing hunger and developing their infrastructure.
The MPLA documented their “Vision 2025” by, in the words of the World Bank, proclaiming their desire for peace, sustainable development, an integrated national economy and universal equality.
The National Development Plan for 2013-2017 puts the Vision 2025 into motion, aiming to improve individuals’ lives and reduce poverty and hunger.
The Strategy to Combat Poverty for 2010-2015 states their goal to cut poverty and hunger in half by 2015.
Ongoing efforts include investments into the expansion of water supply systems, which will need accompanying reforms providing more affordable services. The Government also placed food security and nutrition as its first Rural Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy objective.
The importance of this effort was identified by an analysis conducted in 2003, which revealed that over 2.6 million people were food insecure. More recently, accurate measurements are lacking, as surveys focused on food security have not been conducted.
– Elias Goodman
Sources: USAID 1, U.S. Department of State, USAID 2, WHO 1, WHO 2, UNDP 1, UNDP 2, UNDP 3, World Bank 1, World Bank 2, UNICEF 2
Photo: Farmers on a Mission